While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of daily life, there has been one silver lining, at least in California: Fewer car accidents and traffic fatalities.
A new study from the University of California, Davis shows that the crash rate and number of injuries have dropped by almost half since Gov. Gavin Newsome issued a stay-at-home order on March 19.
How the Pandemic Is Impacting Traffic Safety
Prior to the lockdown order, data from the California Highway Incident Processing System (CHIPS) indicated that there were approximately 1,000 collision incidents per day, of which 400 per day included injuries or fatalities.
With the stay-at-home order in place, researchers saw approximately 500 collisions per day, while the number of daily injuries or fatalities dropped to 200. The report also adds that certain highways have seen traffic volume drop by 60 percent, which could explain the large drop in highway deaths.
Fraser Shilling, co-director of the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis, said he was surprised by how dramatically the stay-at-home order had affected the collision numbers. “We’ve never had a statewide experiment like this before, where you severely reduced traffic and then in real-time monitor the public health implications of less vehicles and their pollution,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
This decrease in collisions and deaths is not only good for public health, it’s also giving insurers a financial windfall. Fewer drivers on the roads and fewer accidents mean fewer claims, meaning insurers are paying out much less than usual. “These companies are making a fortune now because nobody’s on the road anymore,” said David Ratcliff, a researcher at the American Association for Justice, a nonprofit organization that represents trial lawyers.
Causes of Car Accidents During COVID-19
While it’s good news that fewer people are being hurt or dying on California roads during the pandemic, accidents are still happening. Some common causes of car accidents and fatalities during the COVID-19 outbreak include:
- Speeding – People may be more likely to drive above the speed limit since there are fewer drivers on the road. Driving above the speed limit increases the required stopping distance, reduces the driver’s reaction time, makes it easier for the driver to lose control, and increases the risk of serious injuries or death.
- Failure to use seat belts – Some people may be less concerned with safety if they believe there are fewer drivers on the road or that police may not be out in force like they were before the pandemic hit. Failure to use a seat belt leaves passengers much more vulnerable to serious injury or death, including from being ejected from the vehicle.
- Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs – Bars and restaurants may be closed, but drivers are still finding ways to drink or drive while impaired. They may believe they’re safer because there are fewer drivers on the road or fewer police officers to catch them, but driving while drunk or otherwise impaired still presents a serious danger to themselves and others.
Will COVID-19 Affect My Car Accident Case?
If you’ve been in an accident and are wondering if the ongoing pandemic will impact your case, the short answer is yes. Many courts or law firms are closed (but not us), which makes it difficult to even file a claim. Hospitals and doctors may be closed or only seeing “essential” patients, making it hard to get the medical care you may need.
Insurers may be lowballing their customers, as they see the financial uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 as a way to get claimants to take less-than-ideal offers. You may also see delays in getting an answer from your insurer about your claim, as many employees are working from home or are overwhelmed with a flood of cases.
If any of these things happen to you, the important thing is to not panic and to speak with a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible. We can help you make sure your claim is filed quickly and correctly, and we can keep up the pressure on your insurer, so they take your claim seriously. If your insurer denies or lowballs your claim, we can also help you evaluate your next steps and fight for a better resolution to your case.
What to Do If I Get into a Car Accident During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Unfortunately, car accidents happen regardless of what’s happening in the world around us, and crashes are still happening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to follow social distancing guidelines when interacting with others involved in the crash, but still get their information including their name, phone number, drivers’ license number, vehicle identification number, license plate, and insurance information.
If anyone witnessed the crash, ask for their contact information as well. Take pictures of the vehicles, the accident scene, and anything else that could be relevant to your case if you need to file an injury claim.
After an accident, you might be fearful of seeking treatment because you’re worried about contracting the coronavirus at the hospital or your doctor’s office. We understand these concerns, but it is vital that you still seek medical attention right away. Getting proper medical care quickly after an accident is crucial to avoid having any injuries worsen. It is also critical to have a medical record if you have to file an injury claim.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Sacramento Now!
If you’ve been injured in a car crash, call an experienced personal injury lawyer right away for help. At the Demas Law Group, we’ve spent 25 years helping those who’ve been hurt get justice and fair compensation. We’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients, and we’ll bring the same winning skills and passion to your case. We represent clients on a contingency basis, which means you won’t pay us a penny until we’ve secured compensation for you.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, call the Demas Law Group today or reach out to us online right away. We’ve taken a proactive approach to helping clients during this challenging time. To protect you, we offer virtual consultations and electronic document sharing, as well as other safety precautions.